Anyone feeling sheepish about their accumulating late fees at the Sylvan Lake Municipal Library will soon have a new means at their disposal, to rectify that issue – or those issues, depending on how many fines they have accrued. The Sylvan Lake Municipal Library is introducing a new program entitled Fines For Food. It entails Library users redeeming their late fees with donations of food, to assist people in the community who are in need.
“If you have a library fine, you can pay it off with food. This year, the proceeds will go toward the Library’s Little Free Pantry,” said Library Technician Tammy Montague. “It’s basically a shelf in the library where if you need something, you can take it, and if you have something, you can drop it off. It’s kind of like a food bank, with diapers, tampons, soap, non-perishable food items – those kinds of things.”
Montague said that Food for Fines is a yearly event that sometimes takes place twice a year. Each non-perishable food item donated equals $2 forgiven, with a maximum possible daily contribution of $50 per library card.
Food for Fines will run from May 7 – 21, and “just gives people a chance to keep using their card,” Montague noted, “because if they get fines, they won’t want to come back.”
“This gives them a chance to clear up their fines and then come back to the library, because that’s what we want,” said Montague. “We’re not interested in the money – we want people to continue to read, to come back and to use the Library. It goes to help the rest of the community when they exchange food for their fines.”
Montague said that Food for Fines is a program that caters to a strong need. The Little Free Pantry is a popular resource, and part of that popularity is due to the fact that the Sylvan Lake Food Bank is only open once a week.
“We’ve seen an increasing number of people coming in and using that pantry, and sometimes, it’s hard to keep it stocked,” said Montague. “We put out request on social media, asking for some donations, and they always come in. People are always eager to help.”
Fines that can be redeemed through Food for Fines are limited to late fees, Montague said, adding that fines on lost or damaged items do not apply.